Teaching Kids Table Manners And Etiquette

Deciding to introduce our child to a high chair proved beneficial for instilling table manners and etiquette from an early age. At approximately 8 months old, we selected one of the top high chairs for babies in India, recognizing the importance of this step. Despite feeling it may have been delayed, the adage “better late than never” rings true. Recently, our son received a charming Graco high chair as a gift from my parents. Though there are moments when he resists sitting on it, one of my significant endeavors remains teaching him proper table etiquette and manners.

Teaching Kids Table Manners And Etiquette
Graco’s Tea Time High Chair 

Children often exhibit poor table manners, often stemming from their early experiences. Teaching kids proper table etiquette can indeed pose challenges, with the high chair experience often bearing the brunt of the blame. Transitioning a child to a booster seat or high chair for meals can sometimes be distressing for them, as they may not feel comfortable or engaged. They might become impatient for the meal or feel left out of conversations they cannot fully comprehend, particularly if the chair isolates them from the rest of the family. It’s essential to consider strategies to make mealtimes more enjoyable for them while they remain seated in their high chair.

Teaching Kids Table Manners And Etiquette

How to encourage table manners and etiquette in kids

At the moment and if I tell you honestly, we are definitely way too far from it. It seems like a mission impossible. He gets agitated sitting on it for more than 15 minutes. The last leg of those 15 minutes is terrible. He purposely drops his spoon on the floor and joyfully dips both his hands in that delicious bowl full of vegetable gravy.

But I have realised that with a plateful of patience and the ‘let’s not give up’ attitude, we will at least be able to instil in him the basic idea of how to behave at the table. Most importantly, how to enjoy a meal with the family.

By table manners and etiquettes, it is generally meant that the child embodies good behaviour while eating a meal at a table. Therefore, our focus should always be on how to create a healthy experience and environment for the child to always associate eating with joy.

By table manners, we don’t mean, sitting up straight or holding the fork correctly. Instead, we’re talking about being able to eat with your kids whether at home or at a restaurant while they’re enjoying themselves.

Simple tips for teaching kids table manners and etiquette:

1. Set the correct time

Serve them meals at a fixed time and stick to this pattern on a daily basis. For instance, 8:00 AM breakfast, 1:00 PM lunch, 4:00 PM snack and 7:00 PM dinner. This way, they will get used to a set pattern. Children love learning patterns. Their minds and bodies respond very well to pattern techniques.

2. Goal setting

Place one thing at a time in front of them. Toddlers are known to throw a lot of tantrums when it comes to food. So, if they throw food on the floor, then it is advised that you always put one piece of food item at a time on his highchair tray, e.g. one piece of chicken or carrot. When he is finished eating it, give him another. This way, he will make less mess, learn patience and discipline.

3. Practice with them

Sit with them at a time other than the fixed mealtime and explain what you expect out of them. Pen it down for them and keep reminding them through pictorial representations. Ask them to remind you of those rules or you sing those rules along with them. If you are creative, then do a bit of story-telling and mention those rules as a ‘lesson/conclusion of the story. This can especially be practised amongst the pre-schooler group who are known to be picky/fussy/slow eaters. Practising the art of conversation and active listening. It is advised to get started on this early on. After all, who would like to hear one-word answers and gloomy, dull faces on the dinner table!

4. Include them in the conversation and listen to them actively

Involve kids in the conversation that you are having with other members of the family. Being included in the conversation can be a morale booster. You might explain what you’re discussing, or simply ask one another, including the kids, how your day has gone.

5. Discuss the food

With conversations and meals going hand in hand, talking about the food keeps children engaged. Besides, telling them the concept of farm-to-table can be one of the best topics to teach them the value of the food chain, farming community and nutrition food provides. Ask your child what the best part of the meal is. Discuss the colours, textures and aromas in the foo.

Teaching Kids Table Manners And Etiquette

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12 thoughts on “Teaching Kids Table Manners And Etiquette”

  1. Table manners are so important! We use to take our kids out for Sunday breakfast to different restaurants. It was a great way to teach manners, because they were always excited about their new surroundings.
    😉 G-uno

    1. So true! How old are they? Do they exhibit good table manners now? I am so hopeful that my 11 mo starts to show some respect towards food (like really soon!):(

      1. LOL My kids are now 25 & 23. Yes they have great table manners which I attribute to setting the example early on in their childhood. I think that another thing that helped was we always sat together for our meals, and made eating a time to bond rather than focus on the food. Even now the kids still drop by to eat meals together. Love your posts! G-uno

  2. With kids, it’s never too early. Agree with all your suggestions, Vaishali 🙂 Even I introduced a high chair to H when she was 7 months old.

      1. Of course! Not only eating became relatively mess free, within a couple of weeks she knew that eating is supposed to be on the chair. It sounds strange, but setting up routine is easiest among babies. At two is pretty cool with a high chair.